I am very late getting last week’s post up. Between chickens, getting this month’s newsletter edited and posted, a sick non-sleeping baby and then election day AND jury duty which I had forgotten about Monday (they excused me for being a nursing momma, even though I had neglected to send in the form on time) there hasn’t been much left for anything else. I have felt a bit like a chicken with it’s head…well…
Speaking of…they did not all meet their fate on Saturday, but the first nine did, including our old layers. My husband and the boys spent the morning setting up. Our friend and his son came over around lunch time and got them started. They called me out to look at the first two after they had been de-feathered. It is rather funny, but I was pleasantly surprised at how chicken-ish (as opposed to sparrow-ish) they looked, but our friend convinced us to wait on the bulk of the flock. And so they are on “full feed”, meaning that they have ‘round the clock access to as much food as they can eat (this was my intention with the feeder design I planned, but the issues we encountered were never resolved and so Elijah had just been feeding twice daily) for the next however long. I guess the plan is just to do a few every weekend until we run out…and then stop. There are times that this whole thing is so embarrassingly slapdash… I think that the boys had fun once they got going, though. We were sitting at dinner that evening and they kept telling stories—how they figured out how to do this or that part of the process and then, of course, stories of chickens squawking as they were being gutted and headless chickens jumping off of tables. We are just doing our part to provide them with good stories to tell their friends and posterity. I hope they appreciate our efforts.
And speaking still more of birds: they are bird-brained except when it comes to getting at our tomatoes. The bird netting has accomplished nothing.
In better garden news, Elijah reports that the garlic has sprouted. I haven’t been up there the last few days as I’ve been trying to take it easy and I’ve had a sick Joseph, but I need to just go ahead and escape to the garden/orchard for a while. Even with all its problems, it makes me happy to see the little bits of things that we’ve done.
I went ahead and put in our initial bare root order, including one special order apple tree. According to my estimates, we have more than enough apple trees to provide for us, but this variety is a particularly good keeper, supposedly at its best after having been in storage for a couple of months, and so it feeds into my dreams of a root cellar someday. This apple is also a very low-chill variety that should do well even after our least wintery winters. I tried not to go too crazy (hard to do—crazy is so very fun), but just to fill in gaps in the season and in our broad potential range of chill hours. I’m trying to set up a situation where something should work out every year.
I continue to lament the loss of last year’s sourdough culture. This year’s is getting better—the culture is smelling less vinegary and more yeasty—but my bread is still not rising fast enough to be recognizably higher even after three hours, let alone doubling in volume. I hate having to repeat the research and experiments I did last year, but that is what I’m going to have to do. A couple of ideas: 1) I’m still getting a lot of hooch, despite our declining temperatures, which means that the culture is hungry. It seems like last year after I got the starter established, I switched from spelt to whole wheat flour and that slowed down the starter’s flour consumption. I need to try wheat and try it a little drier—perhaps 4 oz flour and 3 oz water. 2) My bread is taking forever to cook. Maybe I need to start off at a higher temperature initially (like in my yeasted bread recipe) as then drop it afterwards. Will that negatively affect my crust or my oven-rise? I do not know… I do hope you are enjoying my notes on the sourdough saga.
As I mentioned before, Joseph has been sick—tired, often sad or irritable, occasionally inconsolable and very runny-nosed—but I look down at him with all those things that might make him unappealing to others and I love him so much that my heart could burst. And the Spirit assures me that this is what my Heavenly Father feels for me, even when I am similarly un-adorable. I am so grateful that I do not always get what I deserve.